Thursday, June 21, 2012

Mood music: Delerium edition

I’ve blogged before about how music can be very helpful to me for creating a particular mood. I always listen to music when I write, but there are certain songs that are much more active in my creative process. This is especially important for horror stories. I’m not exactly going around all day thinking dark thoughts (except when someone forces me to listen to Nickelback).

My favorite group for dark, inspiring music is Delerium. Yes, that’s how it’s spelled.  Delerium got its start in the late 1980s, and released seven albums just in the 1990s. You might have heard their song “Silence” with Sarah McLachlan. It was all over the radio in the late 1990s.

"Silence" from Karma 

Unfortunately, after 2000, they took a sharp veer toward pop. Their latest releases have sounded like standard pop with a slight new age tinge.

Wikipedia describes their early sound as “dark ethereal ambient trance and voiceless industrial soundscapes.”  I love the imagery of the latter phrase, like dark skies over cement factories and identical-looking workers with tape forever over their mouths.

In any case, here are a few of my favorite tracks for creating a proper horror-writing mood.

"Inside the Chamber" from Faces, Forms and Illusions

"Tundra" from Stone Towers

Delerium also released a double CD with a more science fiction /space vibe.  The tracks were inspired by 2001: a Space Odyssey, and some lines from the movie are in a few of the songs.  One of my favorites is Hypoxia.

Two of Delerium’s more upbeat CDs, before the too-commercial turn, became the soundtrack to my cross-country trips.  They were usually the first things I put on as I set out, before the sun rose.  Songs like Consensual Worlds are now the epitome of night driving for me.

 Consensual Worlds, from Semantic Spaces

Whew, that's a lot of videos - and believe me, this is me holding myself back. 

Unfortunately, some of Delerium's earlier CDs are near impossible to find these days.  On ITunes, Archives I and II are a collection of some of their earlier songs. For anyone looking for less dark and more upbeat trance music, I highly recommend Semantic Spaces and Karma. Those albums also feature an excellent collection of female vocals (anything with Kristy Thirsk is a must).  And, of course, this song, which is one of my top three favorite songs of all time.

"Euphoria (Firefly)" from  Karma

What songs do you listen to in order to create a dark  - or a light - mood for writing?


  1. I have a hard time listening to music while I write. My mind is too likely to try and turn the music into a story. I've never heard this kind before. I like it more than I thought I would. :)

    Songs with lyrics about people often help me create characters. For example "It Had Better Be Tonight" sung by Michael Buble helped me come up with Jack.

    1. I have a few songs that go along with characters, and a few others that seem to be stories in themselves. Many more music blogs to come! :)

  2. I'm like Melanie. I have a hard time writing when any music is playing. I think that is because I usually write at night when everyone else is in bed, and my house is completely silent.

    But I do love that firefly song. :)

    1. In my case, I use the music to shut out the sounds of roommate moving through the house or talking to his fiancee. It's rarely truly quiet around here!

  3. I'm with Sabrina! Any task that requires engaging my brain while sitting still goes far better for me with music. Silence often prompts my brain to play something, ANYTHING, and its default is to limp in small circles around whatever dumb pop song got stuck in my head last week. =P If I'm writing (or studying), I don't want distinct and distracting lyrics; I want music to set the tone without commanding the topic, with just enough rhythm to quell (or focus) the fidget in me. Delerium has long been among my favorites. (Sabrina, that may have been your doing?) Today I'm making a playlist to edit data to at work, and there're going to be lots of that genre involved. Other priority music in my list are Dead Can Dance, Ekova's Space Lullabies, and symphonic adaptations of rock music - I have Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin.

    1. GABE!!! :)

      Yes, that's exactly it. If there are too many words, I focus on them instead of my writing. I can actually tolerate words at work, but then, the work that I do can be kind of frustrating, so it's better to have lyrics as a partial attention-grabber than going to the internet.

      Hmmm... I'm not sure we ever listened to music together, but I've loved Delerium since before the Cape, so it could be.

      I've never quite been able to get into Dead Can Dance, but I haven't tried hard. What are your favorite songs of theirs? And I'll definitely have to check out Ekova's Space Lullabies. LOVE the name.


    2. I remembered my Delerium source! ...and it wasn't you, but it WAS that year, and I think we had a few discussions on the topic, over book-swapping.

      For Dead Can Dance, I like Celtic and Music for Vampires best, mostly for nostalgia's sake I think. I tend to put everything they've got shuffled with a bunch of other things, and trust that there will be pleasant sounds coming from the speakers. And I forgot to mention Corvus Corax! If ever you are writing dark fiction set in alternate Latin histories, they should be your soundtrack.

      I don't comment here ever (not being a writer and all), but my boyfriend has a talent for the craft, and I like what you write, so I follow this blog and learn a little around the edges. =)

  4. I personally can't listen to music while I write, because I end up singing along, and then dancing along, and then...horrors of

    There is one song that inspires me ever time though, I wrote Hatched while my son was in his WALLE phase. Everyday, I'd pop in the DvD, turn on Word, and these words, "Out there, in a world of pure imagination..." would send me spinning.


  5. When I was in high school, I had to have music to write to. I just felt the emotion of the music so much more then. Now, silence is golden most of the time. The only music I can put in the background now and still write is actually the same stuff I listened to as a teenager (which isn't my favorite stuff anymore). Go figure.


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